THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The first instance of local transmission of the mutant variant of Covid-19 was detected in the state on Tuesday. The 72-year-old man, who tested positive for the UK strain, was on the contact list of a UK returnee, from Kozhikode, who was earlier detected with the new strain. The state has reported 11 cases of the new strain which is considered to be far more infectious than the original virus. The local transmission was found at a time the country is on alert against the new strains of Covid-19 viruses from the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
The screening of overseas passengers has been strengthened with a special focus on passengers in flights operating from these countries, in addition to flights from Gulf countries, from Tuesday morning.Health experts have been warning the state government to increase the number of tests as the daily cases witnessed a spurt at the beginning of the year.
“The presence of fast-spreading Covid strain could be one of the reasons for high daily cases in the state,” said a doctor. “The state has been late in enforcing strict quarantine rules for the UK returnees as mandated by the Central Government. The first case of UK strain among them was detected when many of them had completed their home quarantine.” The airports in the state have been conducting PCR test on returnees from the United Kingdom since the end of December following a global alert on the new strain.
The segregation of passengers on flights from Europe, South Africa and Brazil also started on Tuesday.
State secretary of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Gopikumar P, termed it as a major development that required the attention of the government as the state has a large group of susceptible population. Though the government started the genome study with the support of the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Interactive Biology in Delhi, it is yet to announce the details.
However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said there was nothing unusual from the studies so far.
In a webinar conducted by the department, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, Rajan Khobragade, said the genome study result will come out in March.
immunisation programme for poll officials begins
T’Puram: The state on Tuesday reported 4,034 new cases with a test positivity rate of 5.80 per cent. As many as 69,604 samples were tested. A total of 14 deaths due to Covid were confirmed on the day, taking the toll to 4,119. Among the newly infected, 81 came from outside. However, no cases were reported among UK-returnees. As many as 4,823 people recovered from the infection and the active cases remained at 54,665. Meanwhile, the Covid immunisation programme for officials involved in the upcoming assembly election began on Tuesday.
As many as two lakh officers will get the first dose of the vaccine before March 31 and the second dose before the election. The Central Government has directed the state to treat all poll officials as frontline workers for the purpose of Covid-19 vaccination. The health department will open multiple vaccination sites to cover the large group before the election. The director of State Health Mission is the nodal officer for the vaccination programme.